Commentary on the Gospel of
Today’s readings are about discernment. How do we decide what to do when we have choices to make in our daily lives—at work, home and everywhere in-between? We need discernment. We need wisdom to look at our options and come up with the right decision, the decision that is most pleasing to God and most in line with God’s purposes.
Solomon is renowned for asking God for the best gift, a gift God was very pleased to give him. Solomon could have asked for anything—God had basically given him a blank check. But he chose to ask for “an understanding heart, to judge your (God’s) people and to distinguish right from wrong.”
God replies to Solomon, “Because you have asked for this—not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies…I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding…”
This passage reminds me of 1 John 5: 14, “And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” While I certainly believe that God gives us many good gifts that we don’t even ask for, the thought of taking other Bible quotes at face value that state that God will give us anything we ask for has never set well with me. But I do believe, like Solomon’s request and this passage from 1 John, if we ask for something that is perfectly in tune with God’s will, we will definitely receive it. How do we discern this Holy Will? The closer we draw to God, the more we will know God’s heart and be inclined to ask for the kinds of things Solomon asked for.
The second reading, from Paul to the Romans, contains one of my favorite Bible passages: “Brothers and sisters: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” When our children were young, we memorized some Bible quotes as a family and this was one of them, although we used a different translation. I can still remember the quote we used to recite with the kids, “For those who love God, God works all things together for good.”
What does this have to do with discernment? This does not so much concern decision-making, but rather discernment about what is going on in your life. It always gave me, and I hope my kids, great comfort, because it is saying, “Don’t worry or get agitated when things don’t seem to be going well. Just trust that in the end, or eventually, God will turn this trouble or problem into something good.” I have always believed that and have seen it lived out over and over in my life and in the lives of those around me. So, in this case, remember to discern that God is Love, and you are loved by God, and don’t be engulfed by the emotion of the moment, whether that be disappointment or outright despair.
And the Gospel also is about discerning the true value of our spiritual reality. Jesus tells us to take notice of the spiritual pearls of wisdom and grace that are all around. Look for them, recognize them and value them. If we make them what we seek in life, we will lack for nothing.